A NORTH-EAST hospice has launched an urgent appeal due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Butterwick Hospice Care, which was set up 36 years ago, has warned that the pandemic will have a “devastating” impact on its vital services unless it can raise funds immediately.

Chief Executive Debbie Jones said today (Friday): “Our staff are providing support for families, but our sustainability may be in question unless we get urgent help from the public.”

With the closure of its 12 shops, the hospice has lost an important source of income. The postponement of all fundraising events due to the Government lockdown has been a further severe blow.

Despite losing approximately half its income, a team of nurses is continuing to deliver care and support to terminally ill patients in their own homes.

A small team is also working with NHS England to transfer palliative patients into the hospice at Stockton to free up hospital beds for coronavirus patients.

“It is crucial that we can continue to care for the dying and support their families, especially at this time when care elsewhere is overwhelmingly stretched,” said Miss Jones.

“We are not a cash rich charity – all of our income goes towards providing our services free of charge to those in need. Therefore, we urgently need donations to allow our hospice to keep caring. Without the support of the public, it will have a devastating impact on the services we can provide.

“We are eternally grateful to everyone who has supported us in the past, and in these challenging times. However, we desperately need more donations in order to keep providing our services.”

Butterwick Hospice Care was established after Stockton housewife Mary Butterwick sold her own home to raise funds to lay the foundations for the charity following the death of her husband John.

Anyone who can make a donation, should go to: www.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/butterwickappeal